I first warned you about this scam three years ago, but I am doing so again because it is having a resurgence. This scam is the phony kidnapping scam. This scam starts with a telephone call informing the person answering the phone that his or her spouse or other relative has been kidnapped and if they do not respond by wiring money right away, the relative will be killed. A typical scenario often involves the story that the person being held was kidnapped following a motor vehicle accident in which the missing relative was responsible for damage to the caller’s car or motorcycle. When it comes to many scams, we are often our own worst enemy and this scam is no exception. In many instances, the scammers gather personal information about the intended scam victims from information that the intended victims put up on social media. Armed with this personal information, a scammer can describe the supposed kidnapped victim or provide personal information that would make it appear that indeed they actually do have the person in their custody. This scam is going on around the country, but New York has been hit particularly hard by this scam recently.
Always be skeptical if you receive such a call. Never wire money to anyone for anything unless you are totally convinced that what you are doing is legitimate because unlike paying for something with a credit card, once your wired funds have been sent, they are impossible to get back. Talk to the alleged kidnapper as long as possible, thereby giving someone else with you the time to call or text the alleged kidnap victim on his or her smartphone. You also could ask the kidnapper to describe your relative as well as provide information, such as his or her birth date, which could be found on a driver’s license, however, it is important to remember that much of this kind of information may be available through social media or elsewhere on the Internet.
Many of these kidnapping scams are originating in Puerto Rico or Mexico so be particularly skeptical if you receive the telephone call from Puerto Rico area codes 787, 939 or 856. Also be wary of calls from Mexico where the area codes which are quite numerous, but can be found by clicking on this link. http://dialcode.org/North_America/Mexico/